When the Walton Arts Center hosts the Zimbabwean quintet Nobuntu on Oct. 11, Baum Walker Hall will be filled to the rafters with the soaring harmonies of five African women who are determined to honor the culture and traditions of their country while including a healthy dollop of the here and now.
"Most of the music, or music styles, in Africa are still undiscovered -- so it's fascinating to people," says Nobuntu member Duduzile Sibanda. "The music on its own, the rhythm, the sound -- it's all still new, and people are fascinated by the ways that we perform it and how we mix it with the more modern beats. We're not entirely traditional. We are women of today, we live in the 'now,' we don't live in the 'then.' We want to be relevant. Ninety-five percent of our original work is influenced by tradition, but we're writing it now."
WHEN — 8 p.m. Oct. 11
WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville
COST — $10
INFO — 443-5600
Nobuntu was formed in 2011, and its name, according to the group's website, is based on an African concept that "values humbleness, love, purpose, unity and family from a woman's perspective." The group's music is performed almost a capella, with minimal instrumentation provided by traditional African instruments like the Mbira, a thumb piano. The style ranges from traditional Zimbabwean songs to Afro-jazz and gospel.
For Sibanda, traveling the world as an artistic and cultural ambassador for her country of birth is a second career: She was employed as an accountant prior to going on the road with Nobuntu.
"When I was growing up, my mother was always saying, 'You're never at home, you're always out doing something,'" remembers Sibanda. "Back home in Africa, a girl is supposed to be home, cooking and cleaning, but being modern girls, our parents allowed us to do whatever we want. My mom used to say, 'I hope one day you get a job that lets you travel,' and look how things turned out. Music was always my first love, and when it started taking more time, and I had to choose, I said, 'I don't want to do [accounting] for the rest of my life,' and I left the office."
NAN What's Up on 10/06/2019
Print Headline: Then And Now